Portland posts full report on Uber's dirty dealings with Greyball

No further penalties for ride-sharing giant, however

Portland, Oregon

The city of Portland, Oregon has released its full report on illegal operations by ride-sharing company Uber in 2014.

The report [PDF], compiled in April and released earlier this week, details the city's findings on Uber's use of the "Greyball" program to evade city officials during the two-week period in December, 2014 when it was operating in the city illegally.

Officials with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) confirmed what was first reported in March: that Uber software singled out the accounts used by city officials to catch illegal activity, and thwarted their efforts by cancelling rides or sending "phantom" cars that never appeared.

"Based on this analysis, PBOT has found that when Uber illegally entered the Portland market in December 2014, the company tagged 17 individual rider accounts – 16 of which have been identified as government officials – using its Greyball software tool," the report reads.

"Uber used Greyball software to intentionally evade PBOT's officers from December 5 to December 19, 2014 and deny 29 separate ride requests by PBOT enforcement officers."

By December 21, it was found that Uber stopped operations in Portland and only resumed in April of 2015, when a pilot program was launched. Since that time, the report found, Uber has not been caught marking any greyball accounts.

Lyft, which has also operated legally in Portland since April 2015, was cleared of any use of Greyball tools.

The report did note that since 2015, quite a few drivers (639 for Uber and 381 for Lyft) have violated at least one of the city's requirements for Transportation Network Company (TNC) operators – most commonly by not having proof of insurance or a valid business license.

The report concluded that while no further disciplinary actions need to be taken against Uber or Lyft, the TNC rules should be updated to provide stronger language against the use of any Greyball technology.

"In using Greyball, Uber has sullied its own reputation and cast a cloud over the TNC industry generally," the report found.

"The use of Greyball has only strengthened PBOT's resolve to operate a robust and effective system of protections for Portland's TNC customers." ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017